In memoriam: Chuck Westfall, valued friend and industry icon

by Dave Etchells

posted Friday, March 16, 2018 at 2:25 PM EST


Chuck Westfall, 1952 - 2018

All of us at Imaging Resource are deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Chuck Westfall of Canon earlier this morning, after losing a seven-year battle with kidney cancer. Chuck was truly a legend in the camera industry, a friend to all who knew him, and one of the nicest, most decent human beings I’ve personally ever met.

Chuck was one of the very first people I met in the industry, in the earliest stages of launching IR back in 1998. By that time, he was already a 16-year veteran at Canon, and his advice and support were invaluable to me. He was always there any time I needed him, ever ready to dispense information, advice, or to gently correct errors in our stories, always someone I was truly happy to see whenever our paths crossed. He was that way with everyone; it’s safe to say there was no other person in the photography business who was as well-known and genuinely loved as Chuck.

As their main technical liaison for the press, he was also "Mr. Canon" to a wide swath of the internet, and Canon couldn’t have hoped for a better, more authoritative or more patient voice to carry their message. He was passionate in sharing his love for photography, and the photo industry loved him back.

Special Update: A YouCaring college tuition fundraiser has been established for Chuck's daughter, Anna Westfall. Please see the link below for more information, and thanks for your donations on behalf of the Westfall family.

Anna Westfall Tuition Fund

Chuck first joined Canon in May of 1982 as a technical advisor, but he already had a decade or more of experience in the photography business, even by that point. After attaining a degree in professional photography from RIT, he’d spent the previous ten years working in photo retail, and as a commercial photographer in Chicago.

Canon became dearly close to Chuck’s heart, and there he stayed for the remainder of his decades-long and extremely productive career, rising through the ranks to become Product Planning Advisor for the company's Imaging Technology & Communications Group, based out of Canon U.S.A.'s headquarters in Melville, NY.


Chuck was also unusual for the exceptionally high regard in which Canon’s headquarters management held him. Japanese and American culture and management styles are very different from each other, and it’s rare to see someone so thoroughly bridge that divide, earning the deep respect of Japanese management in the way Chuck most certainly did.

In his many years with the company, Chuck handled countless product launches spanning the entire gamut from consumer compacts to high-end pro gear. And with impressive regularity, he answered our often deeply technical questions with encyclopaedic authority, with barely a pause for thought needed. If Chuck didn’t have the answer, chances are that nobody in the English-speaking world did, just yet. But chances were equally good that Chuck would somehow ferret out that which nobody else could find, and explain it in a way that made sense, too!

Many of us here at IR interacted with Chuck quite often over the years, and he touched all of our lives in some way. Following are a few remembrances from IR staffers; we’re sure that we’ll be our colleagues in the photo industry will be sharing many similar happy memories of Chuck in the days to come.

On behalf of all of us here at IR, we’d like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Chuck’s family, friends and colleagues. Our prayers are with them at this difficult time.

Individual remembrances

"I was shocked and saddened to hear of Chuck’s passing today. It’s been almost two decades now since I first joined the digital imaging press, and Chuck was one of the very first to welcome me to the industry, all those many years ago.

To this day, I can still remember him pulling me to one side at the PMA show in early 2000, whereupon he promptly gave me an enthusiastic "Attaboy!" for getting photos online of a then-prototype Canon D30 before anyone else. At the time, I was a socially-awkward, wet-behind-the-ears nobody who'd been writing about cameras -- heck, writing professionally, for that matter -- for barely a year. I'd yet to begin to make a name for myself, and it was my first real "scoop". But industry peon or not, I was already a somebody to Chuck, and he made sure to let me know that.

Ever since that day, I sought out Chuck's friendly face at every tradeshow I attended, not just to hear the latest news on Canon's products and the state of the industry, but also just for a chat with an old, familiar friend among the usual tradeshow sea of unfamiliar faces. It's not going to be the same without you there in the future, Chuck. You'll be sorely missed and very fondly remembered by all of your friends in the photo industry!”
-- Mike Tomkins, Senior Reviews Editor

“In my 5 years in the field of camera testing, Chuck Westfall is the kindest person I have met. That probably sounds like the right thing to say when someone is gone, but anyone who knew him would nod affirmatively. He had a contagious personality and was a delight to be around, and he will surely be missed.”
-- Dave Pardue, Managing Editor

“I was deeply saddened to hear of Chuck’s passing. He is one of those figures who I just assumed would always be around and ready to help others. I met Chuck a couple years into my time as a photography journalist at Photo Plus in New York, and instantly liked the man. Over the years, I learned that Chuck was not only an outstanding professional, but more importantly he was a lovely human being.  His smile was infectious and he not only cared deeply about the products he represented, but also about the well being of his Canon family and the journalists with whom he interacted. Chuck meant so much to this industry, to Canon, and to me personally. He will be missed dearly.”
-- Jaron Schneider, Senior Writer

A funeral service for Chuck Westfall will be held on Sunday, March 18th at 2:00pm. The service will take place at the Garden City Community Church in Garden City, New York.

Chuck Westfall leaves a legacy in the modern camera industry unmatched by anyone we can think of, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him, either personally, or through his quiet yet authoritative public voice on behalf of Canon. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.